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Restaurant Fundraising: Is It Worth It? Overview, Pros, and Cons


What goes great with raising money for a worthy cause? Delicious restaurant food — a perfect complement that fuels the fundraising spirit with a delightful experience. 

Restaurant fundraisers are fantastic for school groups and organizations both big and small. Whether it’s an ice cream social, a pizza party, or a taco night, there are plenty of enticing restaurant fundraising options to choose from. 

Make the most of restaurant night fundraising with this helpful guide. And, to double your earnings and impact, find out how you can incorporate gift card fundraising into your next restaurant event.

What Is a Restaurant Fundraiser?

A restaurant fundraiser is a great way for organizations to make money without a lot of extra effort. Instead of recruiting volunteers to provide a service, it’s the restaurant’s job to make and sell food to your community members — it’s what they do best, after all.

Restaurant fundraising is pretty simple:

1. Reach out to local or chain restaurants where you’d like to have a fundraiser. Many places already have fundraising models explained on their website, so you can find out exactly how they do it. 

2. Pick a night that works best for both the restaurant and your community members. Restaurants will typically only allow you to choose from weekdays (when they’re generally less busy).

3. Promote the event to your community members. Most restaurants will require guests to show a flier to count their purchase toward your fundraiser, so remind everyone to bring a flier, or have them available at the restaurant.

4. Enjoy a night of good food with a supportive community!

Restaurant fundraising is mutually beneficial to you and the restaurant. The restaurant gets more customers to come (and, hopefully, come back) to their establishment, while you get to collect a portion of the profits for your cause. 

Raise Money with Restaurant Fundraising

Fortunately, there aren’t many costs associated with restaurant fundraising aside from the optional marketing or flier printing expenses. The biggest factor to consider is the profit margin you’ll collect from the restaurant. 

All restaurants run fundraisers differently, so you’ll want to compare the percentages to find the best fit for your fundraising needs. Donations can range anywhere from 5% to 35% of sales; this may include food sales only or the total amount of sales.

You may decide to host your restaurant fundraiser as a single event, but some restaurants allow your fundraiser to run regularly, either monthly or weekly. If you choose this route, you’ll be able to continuously earn money for your cause. 

example of Chipotle restaurant fundraiser flyerExample of Chipotle restaurant fundraising flyer

Pros and Cons of Restaurant Fundraising

If it’s your first time putting together a restaurant fundraiser, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of this strategy.

The advantages of restaurant fundraisers are:

  • Low effort
  • Inexpensive
  • Enjoyable

You can also diversify your restaurant fundraising program, as you don’t necessarily have to fundraise at the same restaurant twice. Offering your community members different cuisines could keep their engagement up.

However, there are some downsides, such as:

  • Low profit margins – Depending on what the restaurant’s fundraiser policies are, you may not be making much money.

  • Scheduling conflicts – Sometimes, your community members won’t be able to attend your fundraiser because of work or other commitments, preventing them from being able to support your cause.

  • Personal taste differences – Simply put, you can’t always please everyone. Some people may choose not to come to your fundraiser because they dislike the food or that particular restaurant. 

To minimize the negative aspects of restaurant fundraising, you can combine it with something even more effective: gift card fundraising with RaiseRight. 

Make the Most of Your Restaurant Fundraiser with RaiseRight

Gift card fundraising enables you and members of your organization to raise money by using gift cards to pay for meals, everyday purchases, or shopping trips. For every gift card purchased, your organization instantly earns anywhere from 2 to 20%, with the earnings coming directly from the retailer or restaurant. 

To incorporate restaurant fundraising with RaiseRight, you can:

Start earning with RaiseRight

Here are some next steps to get the ball rolling:

  1. See why RaiseRight is the #1 fundraising idea for schools, sports teams, bands, and other nonprofits.
  2. Learn more about how gift card fundraising works.
  3. Download the Gift Card Fundraising Playbook and share it with others in your organization.
  4. Start a free program by completing a short, online enrollment form.  

If you’re already a member of an organization looking to join an existing program, you just need your enrollment code to create an account and begin fundraising right away.

unleash your fundraising potential